I've been a bit under the weather the last couple of days, so hadn't been out and about taking any photos. Today, however, I made up for it. Even though I still wasn't feeling 100%, I went to work and took my trusty camera. It might be Easter but in my job that doesn't mean there is no work. Saturday nights are quite busy and there were still night drivers out when I got in this morning. They were still over an hour away from getting back to the yard though, so I quickly nipped down to the paddocks to see the horses and see if the cold snap had kept the Fieldfares and Redwings here. And it had.
|Fieldfare. Must have been at least 40 around today plus about 20 Redwings.|
|Redwing on the left, and Fieldfare on the right.|
The temperature meant the horses water troughs and the over flow puddle, were frozen. The over flow puddle is very popular with bathing Goldfinches, Dunnocks, Chaffinches and Starlings. I normally use Star or Stevie, the pony's, to hide behind and take photos. Star was up for the job today and I leaned around her neck to get the below photographs.
|Pied Wagtail and Goldfinch on iced over puddle|
|Its not Dancing on Ice, its Pied Wagtail on Ice.|
I went back to the office and warmed up, saw off the remaining night drivers, caught up with all the out-standing paperwork and waited for the sun to rise. At lunchtime I went back down the paddocks, and the sun had thawed the frosty grass and the iced up over flow puddle. It was Stevies turn to hide behind, so after a couple of carrots, Stevie led me to the puddle.
|Chaffinch waiting for Goldfinch to finish its bath|
|Goldfinch and teasels|
I bumped into Nelson and Katies owner, Bill, while I was there. While we were chatting the resident male Kestrel flew across the paddock and landed in its favourite tree. Off I went in pursuit. I know Kestrels are fairly common, but they really are my favourite little falcon. Mr Kes was active today. He flew off towards the fields at the very back of the paddocks, but soon came back with some prey and landed on the fence.
|Mr Kes off hunting|
|Mr Kes above my head|
|Mr Kes with prey......a half eaten mouse|
Mr Kes then done something I'd never seen him do before. He 'hid' the remainder of his prey. This is called 'cacheing'. A Kestrel will consume about six mice, small birds or voles per day, and will sometimes just take a mouthful of each and cache the rest. They will then normally go back to where they have cached the remains, just before sunset. This means they don't go to roost on an empty stomach. I watched silently as Mr Kes jumped off his fence perch and walked up to the long grass around the thorny shrub where I normally see the Goldcrests in Nelson and Katies paddock.
|Mr Kes. His half eaten mouse is gripped in his left claw|
|Mr Kes walking towards the long grass at the bottom of the thorny shrub. Sorry for quality of photo. I was peering over the fence by this stage, but trying to do it slowly so I wouldn't spook Mr Kes.|
|Mr Kes emerges triumphant from cacheing his prey.|
I didn't see Mr Kes after that. He will have several little caches with in his hunting territory. I'm just pleased and privileged to have seen one of them.
Katie and Nelson enjoyed the brief sunny interludes and ran around their paddocks sending all the Fieldfares, Redwings, Blackbirds and Mistle Thrushes up into the trees. Nelson only has a couple more weeks here, before he goes for what I call Summer Holiday Camp (training stables for racehorses). Katie will go for her holiday too soon, hers will be a bit more interesting I think. Shes going to be meeting the father of her future foal, wink wink, nudge nudge. But in their place an old friend will be coming back.....watch this space for more details, and photos, in about 3-4 weeks.
Of course Easter wouldn't be Easter without a sighting of an Easter Bunny, so here's a pic of one of the rabbits at the back of the paddocks this morning.
Happy Easter everyone, and cheers :)